A SENIOR officer from Durham Constabulary is set to become South Yorkshire Police’s fourth chief constable this year.
Deputy Chief Con Stephen Watson has been selected as the preferred candidate for the top role by police commissioner Dr Alan Billings.
He will join in November, subject to approval by the police and crime panel at Rotherham Town Hall on June 28.
Mr Watson said: “I am delighted to have been selected and am looking forward to taking up the role.
“I fully recognise the difficulties that the force has faced in recent times and I am committed to leading the organisation through times of change.”
His appointment follows the suspension of David Crompton in April following the Hillsborough inquest verdict.
Temporary replacement Dawn Copley lasted 24 hours before resigning when it emerged she was subject to a misconduct investigation. Dave Jones was drafted in from North Yorkshire in May to cover the post.
The changes at the top have been set against a chaotic backdrop including the Hillsborough inquests, the Rotherham CSE scandal, calls for a Battle of Orgreave inquiry and the sex abuse probe into Sir Cliff Richard, which was dropped last week.
Dr Billings said: “South Yorkshire Police is one of the most high profile forces in the country at the present time and I am confident that, subject to panel approval, we have selected a chief constable who will be able to lead the force through transformational change as we continue to restore trust and confidence with our public, partners and staff.”
Three candidates were interviewed during the recruitment process, which involved figures from the National College of Policing, South Yorkshire councils and the National Probation Service.
Dr Billings said: “Mr Watson impressed us all with his experience, energy, drive and leadership qualities.
“I am confident that we have selected an outstanding candidate who can take the force forward, against a backdrop of continued budget pressures and scrutiny.”
Dad-of-two Mr Watson began his career in Lancashire in 1988 and was awarded a Commissioner’s Commendation as a senior member of the 2012 Olympic Command Team. His role during the games involved the planning and delivery of all territorial policing across London.
He returned north in June 2015 after being appointed deputy at Durham.
Dr Billings said: “Mr Watson has been an excellent deputy chief constable for Durham Constabulary, a high performing force, where he has demonstrated strong and effective leadership and is very highly regarded.
“I congratulate him on his appointment and I look forward to working with him and the rest of the senior leadership group to deliver a long-term strategy for policing in South Yorkshire.”
The chief constable will be appointed for a five-year term.